a microcast by Aaron Parecki

Episode 17: It's 2018!

  •   2m37s / 3.11mb

Getting back in the swing of things, working on Monocle, looking forward to IndieWebCamp Baltimore!


  • January


    Went to Baltimore to help put on IndieWebCamp! It was a lot of fun, and I even added a couple fun things to my website during the second day.

    I also filmed the talks at the DonutJS meetup.


    I managed to publish only one episode of my podcast, Percolator, just before heading to Baltimore.

    We launched applications for the StreamPDX Podcast Fellowship Program in January! We received way more applications than we expected!

    IndieWeb Projects

    We published the final version of WebSub, and the IndieAuth note, on w3.org! Thanks to the hard work of the Social Web Working Group for all their contributions!

    My Website

    I made several improvements to my website during January!

    Other Stuff

    Finally got my OAuth 2.0 book launched for Kindle! It turns out that the Kindle requirements made it a lot more work than just uploading the existing ePub version.



    Okta hosted Iterate 2018, where I went and had a great time chatting with people about OAuth and giving out copies of my book.


    Again I managed to publish only one episode of Percolator during the month.

    The StreamPDX team reviewed all the applications to the fellowship program, and it was really tough to narrow them down! We ended up inviting a handful of people in for interviews, and chose 4 out of that group. I began working with them on their podcasts, making pretty good progress the first few weeks!

    I also taught the first Publishing your Podcast class of the season.

    IndieWeb Projects

    I made a lot of progress on my new IndieWeb reader during February! I wanted to get it in shape enough to use it during the conferences I was attending. I decided to split it into two parts, a Microsub server (Aperture) with no UI for viewing posts, and a separate client that has no storage backend of its own (Monocle).

    I added a minor feature to OwnYourGram, made some minor changes to XRay, and released an updated version of the PHP IndieAuth client.


    Big news in March! I accepted a full-time job at Okta! I've been working with Okta for quite some time now, but always part time as a contractor. I've written up more about what I'll be doing at Okta on the Okta Developers blog!


    • Co-hosted the first Homebrew Microblog Meetup with Jean
    • Went to the PDXNode Hack Night and did a lightning talk about Monocle, my IndieWeb reader
    • Filmed the talks at DonutJS, but had some technical issues with the audio, so those videos aren't nearly as good this month

    IndieWeb Projects

    I made lots of progress on Monocle, getting it to a point where I now can use it every day as my primary home on the Internet. I wrote a blog post describing how everything works, Building an IndieWeb Reader.

    Thanks to the hard work of gRegor and Martijn, we were able to get a new release of the PHP Microformats parser out the door! This is now in use by Monocle, which should improve a lot of the feeds it's seeing.


    Percolator is turning into a monthly podcast, as I managed to again get only one episode out during March.

    The StreamPDX fellowship program is continuing, I've been writing some music for one of the podcasts which has been fun, but a lot of work.

    We brought the StreamPDX trailer to the Portland Art Museum to record audio during an event!

    I taught another session of Publishing Your Podcast.

    Other Stuff

    I finally set up an account at exist.io! I went through the list of all their supported integrations, and decided to customize a bunch of them.

    Since I post notes and photos to places other than Twitter and Instagram, my website is the canonical source of my tweets and photos as well as the responses I get from them. I was able to use the Exist API to take over writing those values and now my Tweet/Instagram counts in Exist actually reflect the notes and photos I post to my own website.

    I noticed they also support tracking miles biked, so since my bike rides are already on my website, I set up a script to push that data to Exist!

    I also track other kinds of transport, and decided to use their custom tracking to visualize that per day. So now I can see at a glance which days I was on a bike, in a taxi, on a train, etc! It's pretty neat looking already, and I'm hoping they'll be able to be used in some insights later!

    The Exist API even has a section for tracking money spent, although they don't integrate with YNAB (yet!). I got beta access to the YNAB API and was able to wire it up to report my spending from certain budget categories into Exist!

  • Just as I was getting sick last week, Colin Walker wrote “There has to be a better way to subscribe to sites.” He’s definitely hit the nail right on the head. The process is currently painful and disorganized, it’s also working on technology that’s almost two decades old and difficult for newcomers at best.

    I’ve always posited that one of the reasons that social media silos have been so successful is that they’ve built some fantastic readers. Sure their UI is cleaner and just dead simple, but to a great extent 95% of their product is an evolved feed reader while the other 5% is a simple posting interface that makes it easy to interact. To compare, most CMSes are almost completely about posting interface, and spend very little time, if any, worrying about providing a reading experience.

    The IndieWeb has been making some serious strides on making cross-site interactions easier with the Webmention and Micropub protocols, but the holy grail is still out there: allowing people to have an integrated feed reader built into their website (or alternately a standalone feed reader that’s tightly integrated with their site via Micropub or other means).

    For those watching the space with as much interest as I have, there are a couple of interesting tools in the space and a few on the immediate horizon that are sure to make the process a whole lot easier and create a new renaissance in the open web.

    SubToMe: a Universal Subscribe Button

    First, for a relatively simple one-size-fits-all subscribe button, I recommend people take a look at SubToMe which touts itself as a “Universal Follow button” because it  “makes it easy for people to follow web sites,because browsers don’t do it.” The button is fairly straightforward and has an awful lot of flexibility built in. In the simplest sense it has some solid feed detection so it finds available feeds on a web page and then provides a handful of recommended major readers to the user. With two clicks, one can pretty quickly and almost immediately subscribe to almost any feed in their reader of choice. 

    For publishers, one can quickly install a simple button on their site. They can further provide a list of specific feeds they want to advertise, and they can even recommend a particular feed reader if they choose.

    For consumers, the service provides a simple browser bookmarklet so that if a site doesn’t have a button, they can click a subscribe button in their browser. Then click on a provider. Done. One can also choose a preferred provider to shorten the process.

    Almost all the major feed readers are supported out of the box and the process of adding new ones is relatively simple.


    Since last June there’s been a quietly growing new web spec called Microsub  that will assuredly shake up the subscription and reader spaces. In short it provides a standardized way for clients to consume and interact with feeds collected by a server.

    While it gets pretty deep pretty quickly, the spec is meant to help decouple some of the heavy architecture of building a feed reader. In some way it’s analogous to the separation of content and display that HTML and CSS allows, but applied to the mechanics of feed readers and how readers display their content.

    There are already a few interesting projects by the names of Together and Indigenous that are taking advantage of the architecture

    I can’t wait to see how it all dovetails together to make a more integrated reading and posting interface as well as the potential it has for individual CMSs to potentially leverage the idea to include integrated interfaces into their products. I can’t wait for the day when my own personal website is compatible with Microsub, so that I can use any Microsub client to read my timeline and follow people.

    I’m also sure that decoupling the idea of displaying posts from actually fetching remote feeds will make it easier to build a reader clients in general. I hope this has a Cambrian explosion-type of effect on the state of the art of feed readers.

    I’d recommend those interested in a high level discussion to have a listen to the following thee short episodes of Aaron Parecki’s Percolator microcast.

    Episode 3: Following If possible, click to play, otherwise your browser may be unable to play this audio file.

    Episode 10: Microsub for Readers If possible, click to play, otherwise your browser may be unable to play this audio file.

    Episode 17: It’s 2018! If possible, click to play, otherwise your browser may be unable to play this audio file.

    Featured photo credit: Flock of sheep flickr photo by Jo@net shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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    Author: Chris Aldrich

    I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media. View all posts by Chris Aldrich